The Dallas Cowboys ended training camp with a bang when rookie defensive end Randy Gregory caught a punt by Chris Jones to the delight of his teammates, sending them all home a day early.
It fulfilled the terms of a game by Jason Garrett, who had the Cowboys pick six offensive and defensive lineman to catch a punt. If one did it, the Cowboys would go home.
If no one did, Garrett would have made other plans.
But Gregory, who has not caught a punt since high school, came through on the first try.
“Well, we had all those contingency plans in place,” Garrett said. “We were confident that one of six guys – we had long discussion about who might do this, the offensive linemen and the defensive linemen eventually surfaced. Randy Gregory did a great job first battle out of the box.”
It’s safe to say that all of the Cowboys were ready to go home after more than four weeks in California.
Garrett said the Cowboys had a productive week and it was simply time to go home.
“I think our guys have worked hard,” Garrett said. “We’ve been here for a long time, laid a great foundation for our team and had a really good week this week – two good days of practice leading up to this morning practice – and I think it’s time to go home.”
Most importantly, Garrett believes the Cowboys had a productive and physical training camp. They got the work they needed to get done, moving one step closer to being ready for the regular season.
“I thought it was outstanding,” Garrett said. “I thought we did a really good job in the offseason program getting ourselves ready for training camp. We believe in a rigorous training camp. We believe in getting in a football uniform and pads and practicing football and establishing the identity of the team in practice every day. We have the right kind of guys on our team who come to work -- they don’t say a whole lot -- they just come to work every day. I feel good about where we are. We obviously have a long way to go.”
While tight end Jason Witten was pleased that Gregory caught the punt and took one for the team, he didn’t necessarily fall for Garrett’s chicanery.
As a 13-year veteran, he said he knew something was up when the meetings rooms were empty and they moved practice up.
Still, Witten is also pleased with what the Cowboys accomplished in training camp. He said they have a different team and a different perspective now than when they started on July 28.
But Witten said the work must continue as the Cowboys move toward the regular season.
“It feels great,” Witten said. “A lot of great work has gone into it. Any time you come into training camp with all your goals and dreams you have you have to go to work and do it. I think our team has done that. We still have a long way but we had a productive camp. This team has come together. We understand how we have to play. We worked out way the last month. This team came out with a purpose each day to get better and focus on those things and hopefully we will see those results follow.”